CSO of the Week: Golos, the independent election monitor

Week-ending 3 September 2021

This week Andrew Roth, reporting in The Guardian on the situation in Russia surrounding the upcoming elections to be held over 17-19 September, wrote:

Meanwhile, rules have been tweaked to make it more difficult to monitor the vote. The elections will be held over three days from September 17-19, rather than just one, making it harder for poll monitors to compare the number of total voters to the votes claimed by United Russia. The public has been blocked from viewing camera feeds from local polling stations, as opposed to past years. And Golos, the NGO that helped reveal fraud in 2011 and other past elections, has been declared a “foreign agent”. “This is a serious signal about falsifications being prepared,” said Grigory Melkonyants, one of the organisation’s leaders.

Golos has been an independent election monitor since its founding in 2000. According to Wikipedia, as of 2008, the organisation covered 40 Russian regions. The organisation has since been declared a ‘foreign agent’ but continues to function as a movement.  Golos is a member of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO) and of the European Platform for Democratic Elections (epde), an association of election monitors in Eastern Europe.

Sources and more news:

The Guardian, 29 August 2021: The Russian government has silenced opposition voices, approved cash payouts to potential voters, and made it nearly impossible to monitor the polls as it prepares for parliamentary elections next month that the opposition has warned will be marred by fraud.

RFE/RL, 28 August 2021: Andrei Pivovarov is perhaps the most atypical candidate in Russia’s already atypical election. Since his arrest on a Warsaw-bound plane preparing for takeoff on the tarmac of the St. Petersburg airport in May, the opposition activist has been campaigning for September’s parliamentary elections from his cell in a Moscow remand prison as he awaits trial on charges of involvement with an “undesirable organization.”

RSF, 31 August 2021: A few weeks before parliamentary elections in Russia on 19 September, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is publishing a country report showing how massively the state leadership under President Vladimir Putin has restricted freedom of the press and freedom of expression in recent months.

The Moscow Times, 31 August 2021: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered law enforcement officers and army staff receive $200, as he seeks support for his unpopular United Russia party ahead of parliamentary elections next month.

RFE/RL, 2 September 2021: The Russian Supreme Court has barred Dmitry Potapenko, a candidate for the center-left Russian Party for Freedom and Justice, from running in upcoming legislative elections because he allegedly held shares in Russian companies listed on foreign exchanges.

The Moscow Times, 3 September 2021: With less than three weeks to go before much-hyped elections to Russia’s national parliament, the State Duma, there is virtually no campaigning to be seen. 

The Moscow Times, 3 September 2021 : A leaked audio recording published by the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper on Thursday has revealed alleged efforts to coordinate “falsification” of votes in Russia’s upcoming parliamentary elections.

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